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Climate Change and Botswana’s Rainfall and Temperatures – May 10th, 2013

20.6S 25.3E

May 10th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Rivers, Salt Flats

Botswana – May 10th, 2013

This image shows two important areas of Botswana: the Okavango Delta (upper left) and the Makgadikgadi Pans (right). It is predicted that Botswana will become hotter over the next few decades, with an expected increase of 2°C by 2050—a rate of warming of 0.27°C per decade. It is also predicted that the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall will be disrupted by climate change.

By 2050 there will be an annual decrease in rainfall of 5 percent in the northern and western regions of the country, while southeastern regions are expected to experience a 5 percent increase in annual rainfall. During the rainfall seasons, it is expected that there will be a 10–20 percent increase during the peak rainfall months (December to February), while other months will yield reduced rainfall. The rainy season will be shorter and less reliable due to climate change, and it is expected that most rain will fall as short, sharp events. It is expected that an increase in temperature would equal an increase in the rates of evaporation and transpiration (click here for more information).

Lakes, Rivers and Wetlands in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia

17.6S 24.9E

April 27th, 2013 Category: Lakes, Rivers, Wetlands

Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia – April 27th, 2013

Multiple lakes and wetland areas can be observed in this image that focuses on Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia (counter-clockwise from lower left quadrant). Visible near the center left is the Okavango Delta, an inland delta in Botswana, with the salt flats of the Makgadikgadi Pan to the southeast. In the upper left quadrant is the Barotse Floodplain, in Zambia, while in the upper right quadrant is Lake Kariba, on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border.

The area in the center of the image is the Caprivi Strip, a narrow protrusion of Namibia eastwards from the Okavango Region about 450 km (280 mi), between Botswana to the south, and Angola and Zambia to the north. Caprivi is bordered by the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe and Zambezi rivers. 

Climate Change Affecting Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana

19.7S 22.8E

March 29th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Rivers, Salt Flats

Botswana – March 29th, 2013

The Okavango Delta (upper left quadrant) is a large inland delta in Botswana, produced by seasonal flooding where the Okavango River spills into a trough in the endorheic basin of the Kalahari Desert. Summer rainfall (in January and February) in Angola’s highlands drains southward through the Okavango River. This water then gradually spreads over the delta from March to August, peaking in the last three months, in which the delta swells to a large, swampy marsh of three times its permanent size. This image was taken in late March, approximately one month in to the flooding period.

The delta is important to Botswana for several reasons, including being a home to many plant and animal species, revenue generated through tourism, and use by local communities for water, fishing and agriculture. However, climate change is affecting the delta through declining precipitation and increasing temperatures, causing flood patterns and water channel distribution to shift. Reduced inflow could result in swamps drying out and forests being replaced by grasslands, causing local animal species to migrate or become extinct.

Also visible here, near the right edge, is the bright white Makgadikgadi Pan, a large salt pan in the middle of the dry savanna of northeastern Botswana. One of the largest salt flats in the world, it is all that remains of the huge, ancient Lake Makgadikgadi. For much of the year, most of the area remains waterless and extremely arid; however, it floods during periods of good rain, attracting wildlife. As it is linked to Okavango Delta by the Boteti River, reduced inflow in the delta region can also affect the ecosystem of the pan.

Future of Okavango Delta, Botswana

19.7S 22.8E

February 12th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Rivers, Wetlands

Botswana – January 26th, 2013

The Okavango Delta (upper left quadrant), in Botswana, is a large inland delta, formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari Desert. All the water reaching the Delta is ultimately evaporated and transpired, and does not flow into any sea or ocean. Each year approximately 11 cubic kilometres of water spread over the 6,000-15,000 km² area.

Scientific studies have suggested that the river flow could decrease by over 26% by the turn of the next century, due to climate change, particularly changing precipitation patterns in Angola. Changing precipitation patterns will result in changing flood patterns, which would devastate an ecosystem built around predictable winter floods. Furthermore, an increased evaporation rate in the Kalahari will reduce total surface area that the flood can reach and accelerate its disappearance (click here to read more).

Veil of Smoke Over Central Africa

15.3S 20.6E

September 10th, 2012 Category: Fires

Angola – August 29th, 2012

Fires in central Africa create a hazy veil of smoke that covers parts of Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These fires are likely agricultural in nature, set by farmers to clear land for planting new crops. Some smoke is also visible in the lower part of the image, near the Botswana border and the Okavango Inland Delta.

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